Tao-te ching Comments

Heaven's Law vs. Man's Law

    Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its being what it is. (Ch. 25, Legge version.)

Commentary

This passage, took from chapter 25, talking about laws, doesn't seem to be Taoist. It rather belongs to the legalist adepts who believe in the supremacy of laws.

But even if the laws must be rooted in Tao the concept is contrary to the Taoist mentality which states that laws are symptoms of decay of the right course of the wise who follows the Tao and not some rule artificially made by politicians in order to govern people. Taoists believe in the personal power of the ruler or his charisma.

Moreover, there's a passage in Chuang-tzu which talks about two kinds of laws: the man's one and the Heaven's. Heaven's law refers to the purity of things as they were created by the the Tao. While the man's law is the alteration of the Heaven's one made for the sake of utility and profit.

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Commentary by Jhian.

 

 


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